Smart Words On Government Subsidies

From Glenn Reynolds, on the middle class:

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

Exactly. 

The same is true with respect to the idiotic attempts by public schools to “teach” self-esteem, while eliminating the things that allow self-esteem to develop.  Like the trappings of middle class life, self-esteem is earned, not bestowed by government.  Teaching kids to have high self-esteem while eliminating competition, letter grades, and so on at best produces arrogance, not the self-esteem that is earned through hard work and self-discipline.

And the same is largely true with respect to the government’s economic engineering.  If the solar power industry, for example, becomes dependent on government subsidies, business models will tend to reflect that and the industry will become incapable of competing on the merits without such subsidies.  Hell, in Colroado the entire indiustry is reeling because of a modest reduction in the subsidy for solar panel installation, although it continues to cover about half the cost.

We would all be better off if we just kept government out of such things.

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Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  

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